A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Saving Lucas Biggs is a story that involves time travel, moral and legal issues, and a scientist who speaks up about the dangers of fracking to save his community. There's some violence: Margaret's father is sentenced to death after being wrongly accused of setting a fire that killed a man; workers are injured in a mine accident; a security force uses a tank to open fire on a striking worker camp, injuring and killing many people, including children; a man is murdered, and another has his head bashed in; and later, the injured man is hanged, though it's made to look like a suicide. Tween and teen readers ready for this intense material will learn about a wide range of topics, including fracking, Quaker history, and what it means to be a whistle blower. They'll also think about being brave and may develop a wider definition of the word. Margaret's idea that “good + good + good + good > BAD" is particularly inspiring considering what she's going through.
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What's the story?
Margaret's dad -- a whistle-blowing geologist who let the community know fracking was hurting the town's water supply -- is framed for murder by greedy fossil fuel executives and sentenced to death by the judge they keep in their pocket. To save her dad's life, Margaret uses a genetic "quirk" to travel back in time to the late 1930s, trying to stop a similar wrong that happened to the judge's family when he was still a boy -- and that turned his heart to stone. She returns to the modern world to continue her fight, with her best friend Charlie and his grandfather faithfully by her side, and learns important lessons about the power of focusing on the good in the world versus the evil, about all the different ways people around her have been truly brave, and why it's ultimately better to focus on the present, which is "here and here and here...and all of it yours."
Is it any good?
SAVING LUCAS BIGGS is an ambitious book that will teach readers about a wide range of topics, including fracking, Quaker history, and what it means to be a whistle-blower. As readers travel through the late 1930s and the modern day with brave Margaret, they'll also be left to think about their own definitions of brave, including whether pacifists would be included in the description and whether they believe small acts of goodness can trump true evil. Time travel is an essential element of the plot, but this book is better off for tweens interested in social justice than science fiction.
Some may think that the conclusion comes off as overly convenient, and it does read a bit like a simplistic Hollywood ending. But the book's more complicated ideas about collective good and bravery -- and the sweet characters such as Margaret, Charlie, and their families, who continue to stand by those they love -- will keep readers engaged to the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about time travel. If you had Margaret's "quirk," how would you use it? Why do you think time travel is such a popular theme in fiction?
What do you think of the idea that "good + good + good + good > BAD." Do you agree with Margaret's math?
Do you agree with Margaret's ultimate conclusion about what it means to be brave? Can pacifism ever be a brave choice?
- Authors: Marisa de los Santos, David Teague
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: April 29, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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